As chaos descends all over the globe, it is easy to forget about the ongoing aggression of the Russians on its neighbors.

Here is a troubling update impacting a prestigious university in Ukraine.

In eastern Ukraine, where the country’s pro-Russian insurgency has claimed thousands of lives, the region’s top university is a major victim of the bitterness and rifts the fighting has caused.

The conflict has not only split the university in half and forced many students and professors to quit, it also has affected everything from the school’s curriculum and the language of its instruction to its coat of arms and diplomas.
Even the name of the history department at the rebel-controlled Donetsk National University has been changed from the Ukrainian History Department to the Local and Regional History Department.

Political unrest, followed by today’s warfare, bubbled up in east Ukraine over anxieties that a burgeoning nationalist strain could undermine the interests of the region’s majority Russian speakers. Instead, it is now Ukrainian culture that is on the defensive.

For the moment, the main struggle is to keep the university going as staff members and students flee in droves, many of them attending classes in a newly created campus in Vinnytsia, a city 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of Donetsk.

“The number of students has decreased, not only because of them moving to Vinnytsia, but also because of the fighting in our region,” said Irina Yaroshevich, a teacher of Ukrainian literature and folklore in Donetsk.
The final straw for many came at the start of the academic year, when gunmen arrived and demanded that staff subject themselves to the authority of the secessionist government of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.

“When the pressure from the militants became stronger, there was also pressure from below. Students asked the Education Ministry to continue our work in a territory under government control,” said political sciences lecturer Vladimir Kipen.

He now teaches many of the same students — still officially under the auspices of the Donetsk National University — but in Vinnytsia.